Alison Laitner

Doctoral Researcher

Contact details  

Alison LaitnerCurrent status

Third year, part time

Research Topic

Discovering Childrens’ Voices and Experiences; Changes from family to institutional care for children and young people with disabilities , Birmingham 1770 to 1870.

Research Summary

To examine archives relating to the care and education of children and young people with disabilities in Birmingham between around 1770 and 1870 focusing on records of individual children, and to demonstrate how their comparative experiences reveal radical changes in society, legislation, education, philosophy, and history of medicine and culture and reflect changing attitudes of society to people and children with disabilities.

To research and explain why and how over the period of a century the rapid growth of institutions in Birmingham affected the treatment and education of children with disabilities, and to try to reconstruct the lives, experiences and voices of those children, and create collective biographies. 

To explain and obtain an insight into the agendas of the different agents providing care, and the impact of policy making and changes in institutional practice on the lives of the children and individual children with disabilities. To examine the developing shift from the child being within the control of the family to being the property of the state and in institutional care.

Previous studies have traced the history of institutions or individual philanthropists, or studied care of adults with disabilities. Little research has been done into the lives of children with disabilities.

Research interests

  • Disability history
  • History of childhood and education
  • Poor law administration and history of charities
  • History of medicine
  • Social and cultural history and social change.


School of Education Research Scholarship


Professor Ian Grosvenor and Dr Kevin Myers